Accessible Digipan - PSK31 for Blind Ham (Amateur) Radio Operators
This webpage is designed for optimal use with screen readers, such as JAWS. You can use your "h" key to jump to heading levels. It is intentionally lacking of fancy graphics, flash, banners, frames and similar complexities.
Blind and visually impaired (and blind plus deaf) ham radio operators can now operate PSK31 in a powerful and accessible application - Accessible Digipan! Using the JAWS screen reader together with DigiPan, blind hams can now finally participate in this wonderful way of amateur radio communications. Accessible Digipan includes everything you need to get started all from the download link below. Included in the download are the scripts, detailed written guides, audio tutorials and many other helpful resources. Even the installer application for DigiPan itself is included! Best of all, it is all free! For more about the systems requirements, see the FAQ below.
Although Accessible Digipan is free, we ask you to make a donation to further the creation of adaptive technologies like this. Below is a GoFundMe link. This project was created by Jim "The Snowman" Snowbarger (WA0PSS) and Richard B. McDonald (KK6MRH). They are both blind. Also, Richard Stutsman (N6IET) helped us greatly with this project; helping us translate the many visual aspects of PSK31 into audible and Braille ways that the blind could enjoy this exciting digital mode. That means that Accessible Digipan has been built for us - meaning for all of the blind and visually impaired hams worldwide. Would you believe that there are more than 4,400 lines of code just for the scripts alone!
Accessible Digipan will continue to be enhanced. And, there are many more projects that we would like to develop going forward! So, please, make whatever size of a donation you can. Help us continue the creation of adaptive technologies for the blind! Importantly, please share the GoFundMe page you will find at the link below with all of your ham clubs, buddies, friends and families. Tweet it out! "Share" it on Facebook! eMail it to your ham club!
Following is the download link. Just click on it. Then, select the "Run" button and follow the easy setup and installation instructions. Get ready for PSK31, you are about to be amazed!
For general information about Accessible Digipan (not user support), please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about professional JAWS scripting services, please send an email to: snowman@SnowmanRadio.com. Support for Accessible Digipan is provided through the Blind Hams User Group mailing list. Below is the link to that group's information webpage. Sign-up there, and then send your support questions to the group!
Blind Hams User Group
A: You need a PC running Windows 7 or later (32- or 64-bit). You also need the JAWS screen reader (version 10 or later). And, of course you need a ham radio and an "interface" to connect between your PC and the radio. Pretty much any ham radio will work that is properly connected to your PC with an interface. Although many different types of interfaces will work just fine, we recommend the SignaLink.
A: Yes. Click on the following for detailed set-up instructions for the respective radio: Kenwood TS-590.
A: PSK31, and essentially all ham radio digital modes as they are called, operate in much the same way as an Internet chat room: you type something, and then the other person types a response and so on. What you type on your computer then goes out through your radio and out your antenna. Then, someone else receives your signal on their antenna through their radio and onto their computer. Of all of the ham radio digital modes, PSK31 is perhaps the most popular. In the same bandwidth as ONE SSB conversation, there can be literally DOZENS of "keyboard-to-keyboard" text QSOs. PSK31, as a digital mode, is not to be confused with "digital radios" such as DMR, D-STAR and the like. There are countless other digital modes used widely in ham radio, like RTTY and JT65. In fact, the first digital mode was CW! Because of its narrow bandwidth and other propagation physics, PSK31 is truly a global communications method - even in poor conditions and even with very low power (30 watts is typically the highest). To read more about PSK31, see this Wikipedia article.
A: Yes. Jim "The Snowman" Snowbarger has made an audio tutorial explaining this. This is a remarkable tutorial. Among many other fantastic things in this tutorial, The Snowman has actually slowed down a PSK31 signal so you can *hear* it! To listen to this tutorial, click here.
A: You bet! With JAWS, everything that is spoken is also output in Braille. If you know Braille, you can have it either way you like - or both. And, if you are both blind and deaf you can now participate in digital mode ham radio too by using Accessible Digipan's Braille output.
A: To our knowledge, Accessible Digipan will not work with screen readers other than JAWS. Accessible Digipan works because of the massively powerful JAWS scripts that have been written for it. Without the use of those scripts, the "native" accessibility of DigiPan is limited. So, we do not think you would gain much benefit running Accessible Digipan under, for example, WindowEyes or NVDA.
A: The accuracy of the print you are getting is a function of the quality of the signal being transmitted and how well you are receiving it. How well *you are receiving it* is a function of your antenna, your rig and interface and how well you have "tuned" DigiPan. It is not abnormal to receive many signals that are printing gibberish. Much like phone signals, often they are not readable. Printing gibberish does not relate to the JAWS scripts or, essentially, anything you are doing wrong. You can mitigate gibberish print by adjusting your DigiPan squelch settings or your signal sensitivity settings (Control+Windows+PageUp/Down). Also, try different bands; especially bands that you know you get good phone reception on.
A: Yes. For whatever reason, if you want to re-install the DigiPan application itself, first quit any running version of DigiPan. Then, perform the standard Windows program uninstall procedure. Next, locate "digipan.ini" in the Windows directory (folder) and delete it. Now, it is probably a good idea to restart your computer to reset everything. Finally, re-install the DigiPan application. Note that after any re-installation, you will have to re-configure your personal data and any custom macros. Generally, you do not need to re-install the JAWS scripts, though.
A: DigiPan was created by Howard "Skip" Teller (KH6TY). Nick Fedoseev (UT2UZ) did the coding. DigiPan was first released in 2000, and the final release (2.0, which is what we use) was released in 2004. DigiPan was the first, groundbreaking application to display all the signals panoramically "on the waterfall." Skip is a legendary ham. In addition to his superhuman contributions to ham radio generally speaking, he has done a great deal to support the blind in ham radio. We stand in awe of Skip, and are eternally grateful to him. You can read more about Skip here.
A: First, focusing on a single digital mode (e.g., RTTY, PSK31, JT65, etc.) was decided for reasons of simplicity. Since PSK31 is the most popular digital mode, it was chosen. Next, to make an application accessible, two things about the application are paramount: simplicity and stability. DigiPan is relatively simple. And, it focuses on a single digital mode - PSK31. That is, it does not try to be a jack-of-all-trades, and master of none. Moreover, DigiPan has a fair amount of "native accessibility." Plus, DigiPan is as stable as they come. In fact, it has not changed one bit since 2004 and is very unlikely to change in the future. Whenever an application changes (e.g., an update, an upgrade, a new version, etc.) that process very often breaks any JAWS scripts that have been written for it.
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